More powerful and inspiring than the superheroes it moves on the big screen, the RenderMan 3-D graphics engine pushes animation toward the photorealistic as anyone who has seen A Bug's Life
, The Iron Giant
, or the Toy Story
can attest.Advanced RenderMan
, written by two long-time employees of Pixar Animation and early participants who helped define the RenderMan standard, is a clear, concise, and technical exploration of this computer graphics and animation rendering tool.
The first section introduces RenderMan, computer graphics concepts, and mathematics, followed by a section on "Scene Description." This includes chapters on "Describing Models and Scenes in RenderMan" and "Handling Complexity in Photorealistic Scenes."
Sections 3 and 4, "Shading," and "Tricks of the Trade" supply the meat of the book and make it worth the cost of admission. These sections include examples and insight from not only a technical perspective but also a cinematic one. The chapter "Storytelling Through Lighting" should be required reading for beginning computer animation artists.
There are numerous color plates, including some rendering tests from Toy Story. These show the same scene (Andy's room) using different lighting and color palettes, each suggesting a different time of day.
Given the difficulty of the book's subject, 3-D artists or animators with limited technical chops, amateurs, or hobbyists might be better served by something more general. This is, however, an outstanding reference for CG technical directors or anyone with experience in graphics and 3-D programming. It is filled with coding examples used to create RenderMan shaders and case studies citing which techniques were used to create a specific look in, for example, Toy Story or A Bug's Life.
The book has no accompanying CD-ROM, but the publisher maintains a Web site from which code snippets and examples can be downloaded. At first, this may seem inconvenient and merely a way to cut production costs, but it's actually an excellent way to keep the examples current. The field of computer graphics and animation is moving at the speed of light, and the examples and tutorials must move with it. But have no fear--RenderMan is here. --Mike Caputo
"Advanced RenderMan: Creating CGI for Motion Pictures" is precisely what you and other RenderMan users are dying for. Written by the world's foremost RenderMan experts, it offers thoroughly updated coverage of the standard while moving beyond the scope of the original "RenderMan Companion" to provide in-depth information on dozens of advanced topics. Both a reference and a tutorial, this book will quickly prove indispensable, whether you're a technical director, graphics programmer, modeler, animator, or hobbyist. Explore the Power of RenderMan. Use the entire range of geometric primitives supported by RenderMan. Understand how and when to use procedural primitives and level of detail. Master every nuance of the Shading Language. Write detailed procedural shaders using texture, displacement, pattern generation, and custom reflection models. Write shaders for special effects relating to volumes, custom lighting, and non-photorealistic media. Use antialiasing to ensure that your shaders are free of artifacts. Minimize the expense of rendering scenes by optimizing input.
Other features from "Advanced RenderMan" are: offers expert advice and instruction applicable to any RenderMan-compliant renderer; filled with technical illustrations and many full-color representations of effects supported by the RenderMan standard; and includes a chapter reviewing key math and computer graphics concepts.